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NEASA - Education System Not Producing Skilled Workers

Posted in: Press releases
Date Added: 2014/01/07

7 January 2013

The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) is adamant that the current education system is failing young people in preparing them to enter the formal job market. NEASA views the latest matric results as a skewed reflection of learners’ ability to join the workforce. The main reason being; that the majority of them do not have the basic skills set that employers are looking for. 

‘The current curriculum do not give priority to vocational training, resulting in a situation where the education system fail to supply workers who have basic skills such as reading and writing that employers need for a specific job,’ says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.

Research shows that the biggest challenge facing the school system is learners’ unsatisfactory language, comprehension and numeracy skills. Last year only 2% of grade nines achieved more than 50% in numeracy skills and only 17% achieved more than 50% in an additional language subject. This trend continues as learners proceeds to higher grades.

‘Many people with a matric certificate are struggling to find employment because they did not take the right subjects. Recent studies have shown that only 50% of people with a matric certificate are employed. Government’s youth wage subsidy is therefore actually insignificant when you have a basic education department that are delivering lesser and lesser numbers of employable people. We therefore agree with University of Free State vice chancellor Jonathan Jansen that the pass rate should be raised to 50% and not the current base of 30% in some subjects and 40 % in others,’ Papenfus said. 

The poor skill set among school leavers is not the only deterrent for prospective employers. The red tape around firing an unskilled and unsuitable worker is a costly and laborious exercise due to the country’s labour regulations. 

‘The reality is that it’s far safer for employers not to employ anyone at all or do so on a limited temporary contract basis. Government does not have the capacity to address youth unemployment and it’s therefore up to the private sector to assist with this challenge. Government should consider creating a far more enabling environment for business to allow for more public-private-partnerships to make up for shortcomings in the state’s capacity to tackle unemployment,’ says Papenfus.

In addition, partnerships with local businesses, including on-the-job training and linking school leavers to apprenticeships should be re-introduced. International best practice has shown that well-structured partnerships could prove an effective solution to youth unemployment.

‘Once again government intervention has proved crippling as FET colleges and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) are not providing the necessary and relevant training to enable young learners to attract job offers from employers. The training schemes are merely occupying the unemployed youth for a short period without really addressing the underlying causes of unemployment,’ says Papenfus.


For more information:


Sya van der Walt

Media Liaison 

082 332 9512

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